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Section 17A - Community Treatment Order

To be detained under a Community Treatment Order (CTO) under Section 17A Mental Health 1983 (as amended) (MHA 1983), you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must be suffering from a mental disorder of a nature and/or degree which makes it appropriate for you to receive medical treatment
  2. It is necessary in the interests of your own health, safety, or for the protection of others that you receive medical treatment
  3. Subject to being liable to be recalled to hospital by your doctor, you can receive the necessary medical treatment without being detained in a hospital
  4. It is necessary that your doctor should be able to exercise their power to recall you to hospital if necessary
  5. Appropriate medical treatment is available for you in the community

You can be discharged onto a CTO from Section 3, Section 37, and Section 47 detention, providing your doctor is satisfied that the legal criteria is made out and an approved mental health professional (AMHP) agrees.


If you or your relative are detained under a CTO under Section 17A MHA 1983, you can initially be under the CTO for a period of up to 6 months beginning from the date of the initial order. If it is considered that you continue to meet the criteria for a CTO towards the end of the initial 6 month period, your doctor can renew the Section for a further 6 months. If it is considered that you continue to meet the criteria for a CTO towards the end of the second 6 month period, your doctor can renew your Section for a 1 year period. Your Section then can continue to be renewed annually.


The conditions will be based on what your needs are. There are 2 conditions that all CTO’s will have. You need to make sure that you are available for a medical exam if:

  • Your Responsible Clinician (RC) needs to see you to decide if you should stay on your CTO, or
  • A Second Opinion Appointed Doctor (SOAD) asks to see you

Consent to Treatment

If you or a relative are detained under this Section and have capacity to consent to treatment, you cannot be given medication against your wishes and must consent to treatment. If you refuse, however, this could result in your doctor exercising their power to recall you to hospital.

If you are recalled to hospital, this can only be for a period of up to 72 hours. Before the expiry of this 72 hour period, your doctor must decide whether to discharge you back onto your CTO or revoke the CTO, reinstating the Section type you were under immediately prior to discharge onto the CTO.

Discharge from Section

You can be discharged by:

  1. Your Responsible Clinician (your doctor)
  2. The hospital managers
  3. Your Nearest Relative
  4. The Tribunal

Hospital Managers Hearings

You have the right to apply to the hospital managers to discharge you from your CTO. You can do this at any time during the CTO.

Tribunal Procedure & Powers

You have one right to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal during the first 6 months of your CTO and once during every period of renewal. For example, if you were placed under a CTO on 3 January, the last day you could submit an application to the Tribunal would be 2 July. If the CTO was renewed, you would have one right of appeal between 3 July and 2 January and if it was renewed further, you would have one right of appeal between 3 January and 2 January of the following year.

Once you have submitted your application to the Tribunal, a Tribunal Hearing should take place within 6-8 weeks of the Tribunal Services receiving your application. Reports will be prepared by your doctor and your social worker/care coordinator and these will be made available to you and the Tribunal Panel.

In the Tribunal Hearing, the Tribunal Panel will hear evidence from your doctor and your social worker/care coordinator. You will also have the opportunity to provide evidence.

The Tribunal Panel has the power to discharge you from the CTO immediately or uphold the CTO.  

What can Biscoes Solicitors do?

  • Meet with you promptly in the community/at your accommodation to advise you about your CTO and your rights, including your right to appeal to the Tribunal to seek discharge from the CTO
  • Advise you regarding consent to treatment issues
  • Review your Section papers and assess their legality
  • Submit an application to the Tribunal on your behalf
  • Contact your Nearest Relative to advise them of their rights and powers
  • Contact your treating team to find out their plans for your care and treatment
  • Attend Care Programme Approach (CPA) meetings and Section 117 aftercare meetings with you or on your behalf
  • If you have a learning disability, we can request Care and Treatment Reviews (CTRs) and attend them with you or on your behalf
  • Represent you in a Hospital Managers Hearing
  • Represent you in a Mental Health Tribunal Hearing
  • Advise you on your rights to aftercare under Section 117 MHA 1983

India Jefferson-Grant is the Mental Health Law specialist in our Mental Health and Capacity Department and is a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme having been independently assessed as an expert in Mental Health Law. If you have been placed under a Section 17A MHA 1983 Community Treatment Order and need legal assistance, you can contact India on 02392 660 261 or


For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch